In our last study, we took a look at the difference between faith and religion so that we can have a better understanding of what faith is. If you missed that study, I would certainly suggest that you also take time to go through it. In this week’s study, we are going to take a look at faith and submission.
Faith is Submissive
Whether you realize this or not, faith, the nature of faith, is entirely submissive. True faith is all about someone giving their trust to someone or to something, right?
Submitting one’s trust
So, for example, if you’re married or in a relationship, you essentially submit your trust to whomever it is that you are with; you are putting your heart into their hands. As you put your hearts into their hands, they are putting their hearts into your hands with the hope that you will be faithful to them as they are faithful to you. This is what faith is in its nature – submitting one’s trust and belief into something or someone.
We tend to shy away from the subject of submitting oneself to another? Why is that? Because the idea of submission in this manner brings along the topic of servitude and the idea of being a slave to something is just off putting considering the history of our society. Though we may not like to discuss the topic of servitude, the truth of the matter is that what one genuinely believes in their heart is what they become a servant of – there is no shying away from this.
Scripture does not shy away from the subject of serving what one genuinely believes in their heart. Here is Jesus speaking on the concept of submissive faith:
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.Matthew 6:24 NKJV
Again, what you genuinely believe in your heart will have rule over you and you will obey its command. The truth of the matter is that all of us submit ourselves to what we genuinely believe, or have faith in, in our hearts. So, this is why it is so important that your faith is built upon a solid foundation – the truth – rather than on conspiracy, false reports, and lies. Whatever you believe in your heart will have rule over you as your master.
Note: What Jesus establishes for us is that there are two masters that could potentially have rule over you and, therefore, have command over every step that you take. One master, Jesus said, is mammon – material things, like money and riches. The other master, Jesus said, is God. Both rulers are quite different, which means serving under one or the other is quite different.
Understanding the rule of the two masters
Something I have said before in the past that we should understand is that both masters have their own instructions – principles – for one to live under. You will often hear me speak about these principles when I speak about living by the way of the world or living by the way of God. Therefore all of us end up choosing to either be obedient (to submit) to one or the other principle (doctrine), and due to our obedience, we become a slave to one or the other.
Again, this is a thought that Jesus touched on when He spoke to the Jews that believed in Him. Jesus, we will see in scripture, said to these Jews:
31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”John 8:31-32 NKJV
What are believers in Christ freed from with His truth? Let us make a note: Christ’s truth set us free from the bondage – the rule – of sin. Sin no longer has rule over us as we are no longer obedient to its call because we stopped submitting ourselves to its doctrine. Let us make another note: The doctrine that believers now abide by is that of Christ and His doctrine is what now has rule over us.
To the very same Jews, we will see that Jesus said about this very thought:
34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.John 8:34-36 NKJV
All of what I have gone over in this section of study is perfectly summed up by Paul in his letter to the Romans (Rom. 6:15-22). Let’s take a moment to study this passage of scripture in Romans.
Paul asked this question within that passage of scripture: “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”
Some are obedient to their own will – their lusts, ambitions, and desires. To some, the idea of being obedient to their own will does not sound bad because they are “living free” by their own authority. So, as we are steadfast in our faith, they believe that there is a reward awaiting them if they remain steadfast in their own way. What comes as a reward for those that are obedient to their own will?
Well, truthfully, some gain some riches that are of the world while others simply do not. Yet, as Jesus said when it comes to the riches of this world, they eventually degrade and are destroyed. Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal (Matt. 6:19).”
So, nothing is actually gained when one is ruled by and is obedient to sin. On the other hand, Jesus said to us that we should lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matt. 6:20). Therefore, when one is ruled by and is obedient to God, there is a treasure that awaits them and that treasure cannot be stolen or destroyed.
A Slave of God
So, what does God ask of us? Note: God calls for all of us to submit ourselves to Him; He seeks for us to submit our will for His will. Again, faith in anything is submissive and so, rather than trying to do the impossible in serving two masters, the Lord desires for you to serve Him and Him alone.
This was the idea that was actually presented to the children of Israel when the Lord desired to make a covenant with them. Within the Ten Commandments, you will see that God commanded the children of Israel to have no other gods before Him (Ex. 20:3). The Lord said to the children of Israel that He is a jealous God that would not stand for those who were supposed to submit themselves to His way going about and submitting themselves to false gods (Ex. 20:5).
False submission to God
There are some who would say that they trust only in the Lord, however, they are not as committed to the Lord as they would like to believe; they are still committed to the world. We have seen what Jesus said about one trying to love and serve two masters – it’s impossible to do.
Peter touched on those who know the right way but choose to forsake being obedient to the right way. In his second letter, we will see that Peter said:
15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.2 Peter 2:15-16 NKJV
Let’s study about Balaam so that we can understand the way of Balaam.
Balaam was a fortune teller that the Lord spoke to in the book of Numbers. He’s a very interesting character in scripture because he was not of Israel but the Lord still used him. We need to take a look at Balaam in this study so that we can see why Peter said what he said about him and so that we can also see why he was rebuked.
The king of Moab, named Balak, called for Balaam because the children of Israel were camping in the plains of Moab. (The children of Israel had just defeated the Amorites as they were wandering through the wilderness and making their way to the Promised Land). Because of the fall of the Amorites and how large Israel were in comparison to Moab, the king called for Balaam so that the fortune teller could curse Israel (Num. 22:1-6).
So, the elders of Moab and Midian came to Balaam with the “diviner’s fee” fee in their hand and they spoke to Balaam about coming back to curse Israel. Instead of going back with the people right away, Balaam spoke to the Lord, and God instructed him not to go back with the people nor to curse Israel because Israel was blessed (Num. 22:8-12).
Balaam, at that time, heeded the Lord’s instructions and all seemed right because he took the right course of action. However, the king would send the people to Balaam again with the desire that he come to the king and curse Israel. This time, Balaam responded, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more (Num. 22:15-18).”
Now, that response sounds very honorable, doesn’t it? However, we cannot be so easily fooled here. Why did Balaam mention the king giving him his house full of silver and gold? At first glance, it would seem that he was saying that he could not be bought at any price, right?
However, we will notice that instead of sending the people away, immediately, Balaam chose to let them spend the night. Why? There was no need for them to spend the night this time around because Balaam had already received God’s answer on the matter. Yet, he tells the people that he wanted to see if the Lord had changed His mind on the matter, when in actuality, God had not changed his mind and Balaam knew that (Num. 22:19).
So, Balaam, himself, was the one that desired to go back with the people to the king. For what purpose? Because Balaam desired something from the king; he had already thrown out there about a house full of silver and gold – Balaam wanted some riches. For His part, God permits Balaam to go back with the men but Balaam was to only share the words with them that God had given to him.
Balaam woke up the next day with his heart set to go see the king. Even though the Lord was allowing this to happen according to His permissive will, He was not happy with Balaam. Scripture tells us that the Angel of the Lord (the preincarnate Christ) went and stood in the way as Balaam was making his way to the king. This next section of scripture is what shows us the mindset and what truly was in the heart of Balaam (Num. 22:22-40).
When the Angel of God was blocking his path, the donkey perceived it before Balaam was able to perceive it! The donkey turns and starts to run off path with Balaam striking it to try and force it back on path. Eventually, the donkey crashed and Balaam was furious with the animal; he beat the animal but the animal refused to move because it was able to perceive that the Angel of the Lord was blocking the way.
Let me just say that when an animal is able to perceive God before you do, it says a great deal about where you are spiritually. To get Balaam’s attention, the Angel of the Lord spoke through the donkey! After a back and forth, Balaam’s spiritual eyes were finally open to what the donkey was able to perceive and he was able to perceive the Angel of the Lord.
Balaam’s spiritual sight – his discernment – was blocked because what was truly on his mind was the mammon rather than the Lord; he was putting his desires over God’s desire. Balaam was supposed to be doing work on behalf of the Lord but he was so caught up in the world that the Lord had to block his path to get him back on track – he had to be rebuked. As Peter said, our submission to the Lord must not be a false one; we should not forsake the right way and go astray because of a love for the wages of unrighteousness.
Total submission to God
Let us note: Submissive faith is total submission to the Lord. What this means is that our faith should move without hesitance and doubt when it comes to God’s instructions. We often end up missing out on blessings because of our doubt and hesitation. So, we must totally submit ourselves to the Lord; we must trust in His will and put His will ahead of our own – God should come first!
One of the best examples that we find in scripture when it comes to total submission to God and His instructions can be seen in the story with Abraham and Isaac (Gen. 22:1-19). So, let us take a moment to go over this story and study it.
Many of us are very familiar with the story. God instructed Abraham to take his “only son”, Isaac, to the land of Moriah and offer him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains (Gen. 22:2). A burnt offering was an offering that was a sign of one being committed to the Lord. So, in other words, Abraham was to offer his son as a sacrifice to show that he was totally committed to the will of God.
Was Abraham happy to do this? Actually, scripture does not really indicate to us the emotions of Abraham in this story but many of us assume that Abraham was not pleased to do this. Honestly, when you read this passage of scripture, the one and only thing that is clear is that Abraham simply trusted the Lord in what He was being instructed to do.
I, personally, believe that Abraham was simply calm and resolute in this moment. So, I believe his emotions were in check because he was living in submission to God’s will and there is a certain calm one has when they let go of their will for God’s will.
We see this calm kind of resolve in Abraham when Isaac was questioning his dad about the burnt offering. Isaac noticed that they had no lamb for the burnt offering and as he was questioning his dad, Abraham calmly responded, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering (Gen. 22:6-8).”
Now, Abraham had said this one the thought being that Isaac would be in the place of the lamb for this burnt offering. Little did Abraham know that God would provide for him and Isaac a ram caught in the thicket (Gen. 22:11-13). I want you to understand that there was no hesitations in Abraham following God’s instructions as he was moving in total submission to the will of God.
Now, you should not take this total submission from Abraham lightly nor should you think that Abraham did not care about his son. Abraham greatly desired to have a son! So much so that he and Sarah, his wife, committed the sin of moving ahead of God’s will by having another son, prior to the birth of Isaac, through Hagar, the maid of Sarah (Gen. 16:1-4).
So, for Abraham to heed God’s instructions and prepare to offer up the blessing that was given to him by God, in Isaac, should show you the kind of faith we should have. We should totally submit our will for God’s will; we should be living in total obedience of God’s way. If you and I are not living in total obedience to God’s instructions, then what does that say about our faith? Our faith is certainly not submissive if we are still holding on to our very own will.
At the end of this story, scripture shows us that there was a reward for Abraham’s submissive faith in God. The Lord said to Abraham, “because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you… (Gen. 22:16-17).”
Through confirming his faith, the Lord made a promise to Abraham’s descendants but also to every other nation in which God promised that they will be blessed (Gen. 22:18). This was a promise that was fulfilled when God gave the world His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him would have everlasting life. Yes, God is a master, but He is a master with a truly wonderful reward that awaits all of those that submit themselves (are obedient) to His rule.
So, we must assure ourselves that we are totally submissive in our faith to the Lord. In other words, we need to assure ourselves that we are being totally obedient to God’s instructions without hesitating and doubting — we must submit our will for His will.
The slave of God’s reward
Paul, throughout his letters, always spoke of himself as either a servant of the Lord or a slave of God. Paul lived his days by being totally submissive to the will of God. Though, even for Paul, there were several moments in time where the Lord had to block Paul’s self desire so as to keep him on track. (For example, Paul had a great desire to go to Rome but his desire was outside of the frame of time that God would send him to Rome).
So, we know that there is a reward that awaits the servant of God and we know that reward is one that is eternal. We as true believers must have the faith of Abraham – no hesitation and no doubt. Paul spoke about fighting the good fight of faith, running the race of faith, and how there is an imperishable crown that awaits all of those who live in the faith of total submission (obedience) to the way of God (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
The one thing that I hope you take away from this study is about having an understanding in submissive faith; we should live in total submission to the instructions of the Lord. Living in total obedience to the way of God is a true sign of one’s faith. Obedience to the way of God, again, puts religion to shame as one is choosing to live by the way of God by their own free will. Submission to God, putting His will over your own will is what pleases the Lord (Heb. 11:6).